045.”It’ s Raining Again”… Week 2.
Day 8. Saturday 21st March 2009.
I woke at 6am to the sound of rain. Now in my sleepy state this took a moment to register as the smiling weather lady on TV told us last night it would be a fine weekend, ALL weekend! Of course all my windows and hatches were open and the floor got wet as did the bathroom but worst of all was my bedding. Grrr! It is a good thing to have access to a tumble dryer. Later in the morning Errol and Nicole returned Donnis and by 11 am we are on the road to Wollongong. I noticed lots of changes, starting on Mt.Ousley Road with sound barriers for the local residents. Because of those barriers I could not find the house I once lived in when as a young 22-year-old I moved to the Gong to work in the Commercial Bank of Australia. We drove out to Kanahooka Point and had a picnic lunch and called Wayne Morris on the mobile. He came to collect us, as his property does not show up on GPS maps. By way of explanation I first met Wayne when he was 19 and came to the branch of Illawarra Mutual Building Society at Dapto which I managed. When I was later transferred to Head Office, Wayne was appointed branch manager. Wayne ending up working for the IMB for thirty years, the last 9 as Chief Executive Officer. Wayne and wife Narelle offered to give us a grand tour of the area, something we could not hope to achieve in the MH. They took us through the suburbs to Mt.Kiera Lookout
then to Sublime Point lookout, then on to Stanwell Tops and on to the new bridge suspended over the ocean.
The tour continued through the Northern Beaches to Wollongong Harbour,
the steelworks, Port Kembla Harbour out through Windang to Shellharbour where we enjoyed fish n chips for dinner. Wayne and his sons are avid motor sports fans and we were shown many souvenirs from leading racecar drivers.
Day 9. Sunday 22nd March 2009. Sunday morning we accompanied Wayne & Narelle to a church service before we drove the relatively short distance to Kiama. Parked in the shadow of the lighthouse
we had a picnic lunch before walking to the Blowhole. Of course it was not working due to a small swell which was also running from the wrong direction. From there we walked to the harbour and the rock pool. It was just as we were walking away from the pool we were both sprayed by a pelican sitting high up on a pole. Yuk! The stink of rotting fish! While Donnis was washing down in the showers a woman told Donnis it was a sign of good luck! I guess it is time we bought a lotto ticket. From the harbour we headed up Saddleback Mountain Road at a slow 2nd gear pace until we reached the home of Les Boniface
about ¾ of the way up the mountain. The Saddleback range is not part of the Great Dividing Range escarpment.
While the GDR runs from Nth Qld to Vic and comes close to the coast around the Illawarra District, the Saddleback is part of a volcanic caldera and parts of the hills in the area are still littered with small volcanic rocks. In fact the early settlers and farmers used the rocks to build dry stone walls as they cleared the land.
Most of those stone walls still exist in the area although many of them are a shadow of their former glory as the landowners sold off many of the rocks to nurserymen. Les and I rode trials motorcycles back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. At 78, Les still competes, along with his son Garry and grandson Jarrod. Les also still lives in the same house he was born in. We did a walking tour of parts of the property which now comprises 50 acres. Les no longer operates his dairy having sold off that section some years ago. He now runs beef cattle on the lush pastures and earns pocket money as a plastic welder. During the early part of the night we had a spectacular lightning show and some rain. At this point I will add a reason for the trip explanation. A reader has asked about our time frame and itinerary. Our itinerary is to get to Melbourne by 29th March in order to be on board the Spirit of Tasmania. Most of the trip will be slowly moving around Tassie. At this stage we may have the return journey destined to be as quick as the outward journey. So in a nutshell – yes a quick trip followed by a slow voyage of exploration followed by a quick trip home. All in all, a three month timeframe. Mid March to Mid June.
Day 10. Monday 23rd March 2009. In the morning Les took us on a drive to the very top of Saddleback. It was a cool morning with a stiff breeze blowing from the northwest. We could see along the coast to Port Kembla Harbour and south to the beaches of the Shoalhaven, our destination later this morning. After taking our leave from Les we headed down the mountain and started towards the Shoalhaven district. This took us through the spectacular Kiama bends which; alas we have no photos. (Cannot drive and take photos) Then a long hill with an equally spectacular valley view taking in the sweep of the coastline including Werri Beach and parts of Gerringong Beach. All the beaches along the coast had board riders who had found a corner of beach protected by a headland from onshore winds. We stopped for groceries from an IGA in the historic and charming town of Gerringong and it was away again. Just out of Gerringong there is now a beautiful golf course where in days gone by were beautiful dairy cattle pastures. I recall the days when seeking an ideal surf spot unaffected by whatever onshore wind might be blowing, we (surfing friends) had parked on the side of the road and carrying surfboard under arm we scampered across the pasture to a little beach with no road access. I wonder if surfers today scamper across the golf course? The hill at Geroa is very steep, leading down to Seven Mile Beach and once again the views of the coastline are just…stunning. In the northern corner tucked into the lee of the headland was a knot of twenty or so board-riders enjoying a left-hand surf break. Instead of continuing along the coast road we turned off to Broughton Hall then on to the historic old town of Berry. The restored old buildings and proliferation of second hand stores, craft stores, bakeries and eateries could keep a person busy for days. We are still on a schedule so only stayed long enough for a quick walk followed by a couple of pies from one of the bakeries before resuming the trip. We passed through the quaint dairying and winery area known as Jaspers Brush and on to Bomaderry, the north side of the Shoalhaven river suburb of Nowra. Our new GPS easily led us to the home of Geoff & Margaret Clifton. Geoff is a largely self taught computer person and using a combination of knowledge, logic and a degree of intuition he has the ability to make computers and mobile phones do things for which there are no instructions. After a great BBQ dinner it was decided we would stay another day, take a grand tour and get a second mobile. The grand tour included Cambewarra Mountain lookout a steep and twisting mountain drive back to Berry, a back-road to the beach at Shoalhaven Heads and along the Shoalhaven River to Bomaderry. The beach along Seven Mile & Shoalhaven Heads was awash with a terrible sloppy surf whipped up by strong onshore winds which was also blowing the sand at a stinging onslaught at our exposed legs. No surf for us today.
Day 12. Wednesday 25th March 2009. We have heard reports of road closures due to bushfires south of Eden on the Vic border. If that is the case by tonight we may have to change our plans and tackle the steep GDR to the west and pick up the Hume Highway and find our way to Melbourne. Stay tuned. Taking our leave of Geoff & Margaret we are on the road by about 11am. A brief stop at Ulladulla Harbour
– worthy of a longer stay – for lunch and we are on our way again. There is lots of smoke haze and at one stage a brief shower of rain before we arrive at the home of Judy & Illya Naumoski at Dalmeny which I suppose could be called a northern suburb of Narooma. Their house overlooks a lake, which has trees running down to the waters edge. After a cuppa they drove us around to some of the sights, one of which is the southern breakwater. On the breakwater rocks we found three fur seals
basking in the waning light. Generally clapping hands will have the seals sitting up and yawning or rolling around. Their breath is a fishy stink and believe me we were close enough to smell them. We also went for a walk along the excellent Olympic boardwalk
and saw a number of fish but the highlight was a number of stingrays, several of which were huge, more than a metre across the wingspan.
Day 13. Thursday 26th March 2009. Next stop is Mallacoota in Vic.
We will probably record the worst ever fuel economy on this part of the trip, as it was all mountain ranges, some of which brought us back to second gear. We secured a site on the waterfront at the premier CP. It is huge, something like 660 sites, all of which get booked out over the holidays. We would have liked more time here to explore but as we have been discovering all the places we have stopped and even the places we did not stop are all beckoning to us to stay awhile. Lots of black swans were “swanning around” on the waterway and we could see them from our rear window. First thing in the morning when we open the curtains they are still there.
Day 14. Friday 27th March 2009. Ye gads! We have been away from home two weeks already. Today we drove through Lakes Entrance – entrancing –
and on to Bairnsdale where we turned off to visit Laurie Hoffman at her Merindah home. Loved the homes on the river coming out of Bairnsdale heading to Paynesville. The homes all had jetties in their backyards and little runabouts tied up alongside. A very appealing scene but alas we did not stop for photos. Tomorrow we commence week three.